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Catcher Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 2

We're a week and a half into the 2019 baseball season, giving us a larger sample size to assess the state of our fantasy rosters. If you were one of the advocates to punt the catching position to the late rounds of your draft, you might be looking for an upgrade at the position by now.

Every season the waiver wire is full of potential league-winning gems and to be a successful fantasy player you need to be an active fantasy player. Unless you plan to ride the hot-hand and roster a revolving door of backstops throughout the season, we need to temper our impulses on slow starts as well as hot-hitting debuts. The good thing about taking a catcher late in drafts is that you can afford to cut ties early without any feeling of guilt that you wasted a valuable draft selection.

The catching position has the least amount of volume of any other spot on the diamond with the number of platoons utilized by teams, so understand that a part-time backstop can still be productive at the position. Depending on league size, these waiver options may or not be available, but we’ll go through a few tiers of catchers to fit your specific need.

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Top-Priority Adds

This tier is targeted towards single-catcher mixed leagues as they are likely to only be available in these formats. These backstops are also particularly serviceable and could return top-10 value in their respective lineups making it a mystery why they are unowned in the first place.

Willians Astudillo (C, MIN) - 42% Owned

Willians Astudillo has quickly become a fan favorite not only in Minnesota but across the entire country. His lovable Pablo Sandoval-esque frame doesn’t embody your stereotypical baseball player, but the man can flat-out hit. So far in the early going this year he’s 7-for-14 with a homer, four RBI, and six runs. The 27-year-old is a contact machine, and he’s yet to strike out this season. He held a 3.1% K-rate in his 30-game sample size from 2018 and Astudillo’s hitting prowess dates back as long as he’s been a professional with a career .306 batting average in the minor leagues. Astudillo has yet to play back-to-back games this season, but even in a 50% timeshare, his fantasy appeal is massive. He won’t pile up a large home run total, but he will count significantly in the R and RBI categories as well as possibly leading the position in average.

Yan Gomes (C, WSH) - 36% Owned

Moving over to the NL for the first time in his career this season is Yan Gomes. He’s shown flashes of elite hitting ability (for a catcher) over the years with the Cleveland Indians as he batted a very respectable .263 a year ago. Gomes is off to a modest start to 2019 as he’s 5-for-19 with a couple of doubles and just one RBI. Over the past two seasons he has averaged 109 games played with 15 HR, 48 R, and 52 RBI, so his power numbers will come around as the season progresses. Gomes is platooning with Kurt Suzuki for the Nationals this season but has so far started in five of their eight games. It’ll be close to a 50/50 split this year, but if anything, Gomes will be on the stronger side of the platoon. If he gets in the neighborhood of his 2017-18 numbers, we’re looking at a top-10 catcher in 2019.


Streamers/Players to Watch

The catchers in this group are in waiver wire limbo as they are likely scooped up in two-catcher and league-specific formats. They are not ideal single mixed league targets unless you have a deep bench to stash one of these backstops. These bats, however, have an outside shot at returning top-10 value if everything breaks right.

Omar Narvaez (C, SEA) - 19% Owned

One of the hottest-hitting backstops to begin the year in 2019 is Omar Narvaez. In his first season with the Mariners, he’s currently batting .265 with two homers, seven runs, and six RBI as he’s one of the few catchers to fill up four of the five roto categories. The 27-year-old is taking his spot nearly every day behind the plate for Seattle as he’s only getting spelled off for routine rest days. He’s one of the few full-time catchers on the waiver wire who plays every day and puts up solid batting numbers, so there's tremendous value in that aspect alone. Narvaez is a career .275 hitter and is primed for a breakout campaign in his first season as a number one catcher. He’s worth a look in single-catcher mixed leagues and is a must own in two-catcher leagues.

Tyler Flowers (C, ATL) - 2% Owned

With Brian McCann hitting the injured list with a hamstring injury, Tyler Flowers has a clear path to consistent playing time in Atlanta. Despite missing the last two games after being hit by a pitch in the hand, Flowers should be in the lineup Tuesday and his fantasy outlook should not change. He had a down year in 2018 as he batted just .227 with eight home runs, but he went .281/12 in 2017 and .270/8 in 2016, so there’s optimism for him to return in the batting average category. He’s off to a terrific start this season as he’s 5-for-11 including one of his knocks leaving the yard for a round-tripper. It's a great spot to be in batting at the bottom of a stacked lineup with the Braves for fantasy purposes as the RBI opportunities will also be there with the speedsters ahead of him reaching base. There’s no timetable for McCann to return to the lineup, so Flowers is a stable fill-in option in NL-only and two-catcher leagues.


Two-Catcher League Options

This tier meshes catchers that may still be available in two-catcher leagues, as well as league specific setups. They may carry some single-catcher mixed league value at some point, but for now, they can stay on your watchlist. They aren’t necessarily going to win you a category, but they won’t hurt your overall production either.

Blake Swihart (C, BOS) - 6% Owned

Blake Swihart is looking to take advantage of his primary backup catching duties in 2019. The former top catching prospect is no longer blocked from more playing time by Sandy Leon but is still playing second fiddle to Christian Vazquez. So far he’s off to a tremendous start going 6-for-16 with a homer, four runs, and four RBI. Swihart could be a star at the position if he were ever to get a full-time role, but the Red Sox need to prioritize defense over offense, so his ceiling remains capped. The recently turned 27-year-old is still a post-hype sleeper but is only worth rostering in AL-only and two-catcher formats. Swihart could provide superb value in these leagues if he keeps making the most of his opportunities in the limited starts that he makes.

Carson Kelly (C, ARI) - 1% Owned

Another backstop benefitting from his teammate hitting the shelf is the Diamondbacks Carson Kelly. It's his job to seize as he'll share the duties with John Ryan Murphy for the interim, but Kelly may earn the top catching mantra by the time Alex Avila returns from the IL. Kelly was one of the top catching prospects in baseball but was stuck behind Yadier Molina in the Cardinals system. He has excellent plate discipline, hits for a solid average, and can get you a double-digit home run total if he gets the at-bats. With the D’backs rebuilding their squad they’d be wise to hand over the catching reigns to Kelly sooner than later. There’s no better time to strike than now on the 24-year-old, especially if he’s available in a dynasty league.

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